armed with a degree in theology, over the years i have come up with specific questions to ask of christians.
indeed i even attend "alpha courses" (introductory courses to becoming a christian) and put these questions to the hosts (usually under the guise of "well i'm thinking of becoming a christian but i have some questions...)
confrontation and causing offense gets you nowhere. also being impolite just reinforces their smug assertion that atheists are angry.
the question i have had most success with at putting people on the spot goes like this...
"a priest rapes a choirboy. the choirboy becomes depressed and traumatized, rejects jesus and the church (understandably), turns to drugs, dies young and spends an eternity in hell, unsaved and condemned by god.
the priest repents on his deathbed, embraces christ, is forgiven and spends forever in heaven.
by what measure can we consider this to be justice?"
i'm hoping that this question might one day become a meme, so that anyone who brings up the subject of christianity is immediately reminded of this question and has an answer demanded of them.
i have many other questions like this that cannot be simply swatted away with theology, mystery or dogma.
i'd be happy to share them with anyone who is interested.
thanks for reading, let me know if it has an impact on anyone you ask.
Awesome. I will use that on my next door-knocker. Just great.
I'd love to hear more, too. There are a lot of door-knockers around here. ^_^
great! glad you like it. try this one:
"the whole premise of christian theology breaks down on the very first page. god tells adam and eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge as to relinquish their innocence and learn right from wrong. in order to obey god's command, they have to make a moral decision, based on a knowledge of right and wrong, WHICH THEY DON'T HAVE!
isn't this a bit like putting a kitten in a wool factory then blaming it for playing with the wool?"
i got loads of these, door knockers have become a plaything of mine recently. just make them a cup of tea before asking the questions so they can't make their excuses and leave in a hurry...
I do the same. It's amusing to see the look on their faces when they see my "Bible Bookshelf". I have a lot of books (two walls of my dining room are lined with bookshelves), and one whole shelf is Bibles, a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, "Who's Who and Where's Where in the Bible", the Atlas of the Bible, the Book of Judas... I still keep forgetting to order my free Book of Mormon.
The Adam and Eve vs. Moral Dilemma is pretty common and too easily brushed off with a "God's will" thing, even if you relate it to Pandora's Box.
Of course, I'm dealing with amateurs for the most part. I mentioned Osiris to the last one and she asked me if that was the god I worshiped and where my church was. I told her "In Egypt 3000 years ago" and she just smiled and nodded.
they're all amateurs.
as mark twain said, "if you could reason with religious folk they'd be no religious folk."
Maybe you can't "reason" with them but you can certainly lead them. In some cases they've just put their trust in the wrong people and in trusting they aren't being misled, they've never had cause to think deeply about their "beliefs." Some of these people can be shown the light.
I have had religious friends that I have discussed these topics with on a rational level. At least one of them later rejected his religious beliefs after a period of such discussions. Many smart religious people are religious for non-smart reasons to paraphrase Michael Shermer. That was definitely the case for this friend.
These questions bother Christians too. They bothered me a lot when I was younger. I was raised a Christian myself.
I think that's mostly true (and mark twain was brilliant), but it was the rational arguments of an atheist friend that planted the seeds of doubt that eventually lead to my freedom from religion. She didn't hide her frustration with religion or dumb down her arguments, but she was polite and sympathetic with the fact that it was hard for me to accept what she had to say. It took a long time and there were other factors that helped lead to my atheism, but it started with reasonable arguments that eventually got threw my defenses despite my resistance.
Not the only example that shows that the doctrine of "salvation through faith alone" is completely immoral.
If there has to be religion, I much prefer the Asian ones that emphasize good deeds and behavior throughout life
thanks for replying.
indeed it is of course not the only example but i find that when phrased this way it has a way of cutting straight to the point.
if they admit that it is unfair then they have to say that god is unfair.
if they say that it is fair...
run like hell.
i like to ask them why god chose some obscure tribe in a barren land to reveal his greatness when there were other civilizations far more advanced to which he could have gotten his 'universal' message to the most people in one attempt. i also find it very interesting that god has not 'revealed' himself in this age of instant access to all parts of the globe. should he just do that, he would have no problem getting all 7 billion of us to accept his claims, but, that may be asking him to actually be involved in his 'creation' now wouldn't it?
did god not know that his plan would cause untold suffering and wars for thousands of years and that many would kill and be killed in his name for his cause? and he seems to have no issue with that, as long as someone still believes? does that make you feel like a lab rat like it does me?
just a few ramblings :D
indeed it is a good point to ask them "why judea? why 1st century?". i think i heard hitch using it in his debates.
i used to ask it of christians a lot myself. now such questions feel like arguing over the details, and in doing so tacitly admitting their might be an intellectual discussion to be had.
the questions i ask now have no reasonable answers at all, and that's what makes them so effective.
your question of the pain and suffering caused by his creation is answered using theology of free-will and the problem of evil. not real answers but good enough for those who need to believe.